Posted in Guest Posts | Posted on 01-08-2013|
I’ve had a few folks write guests posts about Wattpad in the last year and I keep running across news stories on Wattpad authors getting picked up by publishers, so it must be the place to be right now. At the least, it’s a place where you can offer samples (or full books) of your work for free and build an audience.
I’ll say from my own experience (I have the complete Emperor’s Edge Book 1 up over there and part of Book 2) that it’s working to sell books (I’ve had Wattpad readers send me notes saying they picked up the rest of the series). As with a lot of ebook marketing strategies out there right now, it seems to favor those with series — hook them with the first book and hope they’ll go on to buy the rest when those ones aren’t available for free. I might go more into my own experiences there at some point, but I’ve got a meaty guest post for you today from an author who’s been on there longer and has a lot more page views than I have on my stories. I chat with David Alastair Hayden on Twitter, and I’ve started to think of him as the Wattpad pro! So, without further blathering, here’s his advice:
How To Win Followers and Influence Readers on Wattpad
By now most people here know that Wattpad is an online community for reading and sharing stories. It has a highly active base of readers/writers and allows them to build reading lists, vote for and comment on individual chapters, “follow” their favorite authors, and interact with other reader/writers via both public and private messages. For me, Wattpad has been a wickedly fantastic way to connect with readers, sell books, and build toward that holy grail of 1,000 true fans.
Currently, I have a healthy 1.1 million reads on Wattpad for The Storm Dragon’s Heart and over 900 followers. That doesn’t make me the biggest name on Wattpad, but it certainly ain’t too shabby either. For a fantasy adventure book aimed at the lower end of the YA market, I’d say my numbers are excellent. But I didn’t earn readers and convert them to buyers by accident, or by simply spinning a good yarn.
I used a system.
My Wattpad Technique
Step 1) Post Regularly
I post one chapter each week, every week. Choose a day, let everyone know (see author notes below), and stick to it. The reason for this is two fold.
Once readers find and become fans of your work they will know when to come looking for more. They will descend in mass on your newest chapter and the burst of reads, votes, and comments will shoot your book up the hotlist for your genre. This will give you increased visibility similar to that of appearing on a bestseller list on Amazon. As I released the later chapters of The Storm Dragon’s Heart, the first book in my Storm Phase series, each one would rocket me into the Fantasy Top 5 and the Teen Top 50.
Also, Wattpaders are avid readers and they will consume your latest literary offering far faster than you would imagine possible. Because they want it now, all of it. So, if they know when to expect your newest post, it will dampen the urge to make impatient comments.
A Note on Timing: While posting The Storm Dragon’s Heart, I experimented with different times and days. I found that the best time to post chapters for maximum impact on visibility was on Friday or Saturday.
Step 2: Post Lots
On Wattpad, “reads” is the number of times any particular post has been viewed. So if your book has 10 chapters and each chapter has been read 10 times then your book has 100 reads. Readers can also vote on posts. Votes work and are tallied similarly, except where reads are passively gained as people open up a chapter, votes must be intentionally activated.
Obviously, the more chapters your book has the more opportunities you have to gather reads and votes. The more reads and votes you have the more visible your book will be on the site and the more new readers are likely to discover it. If you don’t write short chapters already, then I strongly advise that you break the book up by scenes. In fact, the wriggling of hooked readers on Wattpad affirmed my belief in short chapters for building tension and keeping the virtual pages flipping.
The Storm Dragon’s Heart has 54 chapters out of 85k words. That’s a huge plus because one hooked reader will give me 54 reads by the end. This is a distinct advantage. Make the chapters worth it and be prepared for the pestering of readers desperate for more story.
Short chapters is also a great way to turn impatient readers into book buyers. Book 2: Lair of the Deadly Twelve has 70 chapters and I am posting one each week. But both it and Book 3: The Forbidden Library are already available for purchase on Amazon and the other booksellers. Readers who just can’t wait will go ahead and buy the book.
Step 3) Link to Your Book
When you post or edit a chapter, there is a spot to add tags and such, like keywords on KDP. If you click on the “Advanced” tab in that section it will let you add pictures and videos and and external link. This external link is where you can enter the link to your book on Amazon. It is very simple to do but not obvious. It doesn’t have to be an Amazon link. It could go to B&N or your book’s page on your website. If you do link to Amazon, the link will say “Amazon.”
That link is insufficient. It’s a tiny link. No one will see it. No one will click it. Trust me on this. Despite having that link from the beginning, I had readers message me over and over telling me my book was wonderful and that I really should get it published. I got tired of answering this and had a little stroke of genius. (See Step 4.)
You can and should post active links to all your sales pages in your Wattpad profile. But you cannot put links in the chapters you post. Wattpad will automatically strip them. You can put a direct link as a comment though. So when readers ask you where they can get your book or suggest that you get it published (and they will, no matter how clear you make it that the book is available for purchase) feel free to respond with a link.
Step 4) Add Author’s Notes
At the start of each chapter I put the following note:
You can buy this book and the rest of the STORM PHASE series at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iBooks, and Smashwords.
And at the end of each chapter I put this note for a finished book:
You can buy this book and the rest of the STORM PHASE series at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iBooks, and Smashwords. You can sign up for my newsletter, follow me on Twitter, or like my Facebook page. For more information, see dahayden.com. Your support is appreciated. Thanks for reading!
Or I will put this end note for an ongoing book:
I will post one chapter each week, but there are 70 chapters, so this may take a while. If you just can’t wait, you can buy the complete book and the rest of the STORM PHASE series at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iBooks, and Smashwords.
You can sign up for my newsletter, follow me on Twitter, or like my Facebook page. For more information, see my website dahayden.com. Your support is appreciated. Thanks for reading!
Once I added the notes and started peaking into the Top 10 on Fantasy, I started getting steady sales. And it was pretty obvious that Wattpad was the cause. As I would release each new chapter and the book popped onto those popularity lists, I got an immediate bump in sales on Amazon and other booksellers.
Of course, once the book was nearly finished, this boost trickled off. Readers could see the end in sight and were more patient. I’d estimate that before Book 2: Lair of the Deadly Twelve debuted, I generated about 200 sales off of Wattpad for The Storm Dragon’s Heart which was priced then at $5.99. (At the time my sales were in a huge slump. Not having a sequel to the first book in a series can do that.) Now, I’m getting steady follow-through sales on Book 2: Lair of the Deadly Twelve and Book 3: The Forbidden Library as well from impatient readers who don’t want to wait two years to get the rest of the story. It has become impossible to judge how many, but I’d say quite a few. Storm Phase Book 2 actually outsells Book 1 on Kobo and iBooks.
Step 5) Be Sociable
Wattpad offers loads of opportunities to interact with people and promote yourself. Some people have had success with the forums, sometimes called clubs, and such. I wouldn’t know. There is, however, one thing you definitely should do on Wattpad. It doesn’t even take much time or energy.
Reply to all the comments on your chapters. Be friendly. It only takes a few minutes each week. If someone posts a rude comment to one of your chapters, you can delete the comment. I had one over-eager young fan who sometimes got too aggressive and needed moderating. Eventually my fans started reporting his comments and I didn’t have to do anything anymore.
At the bottom of your profile page is your message board. Readers can post messages just like they were posting comments on a chapter. And you can respond in kind. Or, if you click the checkbox that says “broadcast to followers” under the message box, that message will be sent to all of your followers. Depending on how they have their notifications set up, you message will appear on their Wattpad newsfeed and be sent directly to their email. This is a great way to announce new projects just like you would with a newsletter. Beside that checkbox is a button that lets you post the message to Facebook as well.
Step 6) Get Featured
The only promotion I have done on Wattpad is participating in their Writer Partnership Program which allows select authors to “feature” their completed book on the site. Being “featured” brings in a mass of readers through the advertising exposure by the powers-that-be on Wattpad. Your book will appear on the “Featured” page in the discovery section of the site and on the rather ubiquitous “Books You Might Enjoy” banner. They also allow you to write a guest post for their blog.
There are two ways to get “featured” on Wattpad. You can simply post your entire book and then ask to be. This is the path I most often see indie authors take. If I had known it existed when I first started on Wattpad, this is probably what I would have done, too. I’m glad I didn’t. That’s not to say that you can’t or won’t get results with this method, you will.
But by posting a chapter a week, I slowly built up a list of followers before the Writer Partnership Program contacted me. It allowed me to cleverly time up my “featured” promotion with the release of Book 2: Lair of the Deadly Twelve. My numbers exploded. Waiting to tap that Wattpad promotion helped me reach a much broader fan base than I would have if I had used it earlier. I saw the same huge spike in readers others see after being “featured” but that was on top of my original followers.
And that’s it!
Ok, I lied. Wattpad is a big, complicated social network. So as you wade in, there are a couple of other things you should note and or consider.
Most published authors put up sample chapters to the sequel as an excerpt and leave it there. If you do this, I strongly advise marking it as an excerpt in the title so no one will be mistaken.
I’ve chosen, however, to serialize Book 2: Lair of the Deadly Twelve as well. It won’t all be posted on Wattpad until early 2014. Barring the unforeseen, Book 4 and possibly Book 5 will be out by then and dedicated readers will have to soldier on or dive into their lunch/latte/iTunes money. Will I post Book 3 on Wattpad? I have no idea. I’ll figure that out when I get there.
I also have a complete posting of my adult fantasy novel Wrath of the White Tigress on Wattpad, and I’m serializing Chains of a Dark Goddess which is in the same series. I don’t think Wattpad has boosted or harmed the sales of those two books because …
Rated R Books
If your book is Rated R it will not appear on the charts and will, apparently, be difficult to find by searching. It also won’t be eligible to become featured. This cripples the promotion of such books and is why Wrath of White Tigress has far, far fewer reads than The Storm Dragon’s Heart. It’s not just because YA is a stronger category. You will, of course, find books with Rated R material that are not marked as such, but I do things the right way because … Well, you can’t be evil all the time, can you? I think Captain America taught me that. Well, he probably said something along the lines of “do the right thing” and “be a good person,” but I have my own interpretations.
There is a lot of fan fiction on Wattpad. A whole lot. If you don’t know who One Direction is already, you will find out. (A boy band. I’d give you analogies, but doing so would reveal my true age.) Teens writing fiction for other teens, especially fanfic, can succeed (get TONS of votes, reads, and fans) with subpar writing because they’re writing things their peers will like and enthusiastically support. Peers support their peers, and they critique them. The interactions between peers are very different than those on publishable writing. You cannot and should not compare your numbers to the numbers for books like this. You might, however, want to check out these books to see what teens are into if you write YA.
The Real Reason to Use Wattpad
But here’s the one thing you must accept: Most Wattpad readers are not going to buy your books. It’s just not going to happen for myriad reasons. I’ve had readers with low incomes thank me for posting quality fiction for free (for this I’ve been blessed by the names of strange gods). I have many young readers, too, who maybe don’t have the money or allowance, or live in nations where wealth isn’t so plentiful. I had one reader tell me that he was planning to buy my books after he finished saving up for a guitar. The hope is that they will share their love of my work with friends who do have money to spend on books with boy wizards, Asian settings, fetches that turn into diaries, and cat-girl ninjas.
Many Wattpadders who buy my books message me to let me know they’re supporting me, which is touching, and I always thank them profusely. I have a few fans who’ve bought my books yet still drop by to vote on new chapters and leave me comments on what they liked in the chapter. You really cannot get that kind of feedback anywhere else. I have had dark days brightened by my Wattpad fans and their enthusiasm. The comments on the chapters they love, the begging for more chapters when they know I’m only giving one each week, pestering me because I forgot to post … these are things I cherish.